Raheem Sterling says he has ‘no doubt’ Chelsea will be back challenging for trophies ‘very soon’ and has welcomed the arrival of Mauricio Pochettino at the club.
Pochettino was confirmed as Chelsea’s new permanent boss on Monday and joins a team that finished just 12th in the Premier League this campaign.
The Blues, who have spent around £600m on new signings over the past 12 months, also suffered disappointing exits in the UEFA Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup.
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Sterling does not expect Chelsea’s struggles to continue next season, however, and says ‘there’s no doubt in my mind’ that they will be challenging for trophies ‘very soon’.
He told Arab News: ‘We have a good squad, the quality is there. We will add some players and some will leave, I get it, but there’s no doubt in my mind we will be challenging again very soon.
‘From the start of this season we have not had our best XI out. The majority of it, we have had 11, 12 players out injured so it was an unfair start.
‘But then again, these are the challenges that happen at the top football clubs and it will get us the consistency we need.
‘It’s been hard work, it’s been a tough season, but I always believe after tough times there will be good times if you keep working hard.
‘No matter how this season has gone, good, bad or indifferent, I’ve tried to keep the same focus, the same work-rate and believe you will see the shadow pass.’
On the arrival of former Spurs and PSG head coach Pochettino, Sterling added: ‘From his time before at Tottenham, I heard a conversation about him and he’s the exact person that we need.
‘He will bring leadership, he will challenge players physically and mentally and I think he is going to come here and he is going to have the personality that everyone is going to respect. That’s what we need, someone in charge.’
Sterling spent seven years at Manchester City and won four league titles before heading to Chelsea last summer in a deal worth £50m.
But he endured an underwhelming first campaign at Stamford Bridge, scoring nine goals in 38 games in all competitions.
‘It’s not been hard at all for me personally, Sterling added. ‘I don’t hear the criticism. I keep working, keep going and that’s it.
‘I’ve got the ambition to do well. This is one season and you just have to brush it off and go again.
‘Sometimes these tough times are what gets you to go to the next level. That’s why you use this fuel, you use this motivation of seeing City, my old club, win the title, right in front of me, and go again. It’s simple.
‘That’s the level I’ve been at for the past seven years and that’s the level I want to stay at. I won’t accept this season and we just build now.’
On Pochettino, Chelsea sporting directors Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley said: ‘Mauricio’s experience, standards of excellence, leadership qualities and character will serve Chelsea Football Club well as we move forward.
‘He is a winning coach, who has worked at the highest levels, in multiple leagues and languages. His ethos, tactical approach and commitment to development all made him the exceptional candidate.’